Home Computing McHenry library links patrons to computers with nonprofit PCs for the People – Shaw Local

McHenry library links patrons to computers with nonprofit PCs for the People – Shaw Local

It is hard, if not impossible, to operate in the world without a computer of some sort, and often a smart phone is not enough computer for the work needed, said Zach Terrill, digital service librarian at the McHenry Public Library.

That is why the library began working with the nonprofit PCs for People back in 2022, hosting a free computer distribution event. At that event, more than 50 people from around the state came out to get a free, refurbished computer.

Now, the library is a pickup location for the nonprofit. Those who qualify for the program can receive a laptop computer for $125 or a desktop computer with monitor, keyboard, mouse and cables for $80.

For those without home internet access, PCs for the People also has hotspot devices available. These $60 devices allow data access to the internet for a reduced monthly subscription price. Up to six devices can connect to the internet using the hotspot device, Terrill said.

“We take it for granted, that everyone has a computer, or a way to access” the web, Terrill said. “But some people do not have the resources to get one.”

PCs for People takes donated computers, recycles and refurbishes them. To qualify for one of the devices, customers much have photo identification and “documentation of current enrollment in an income-based government assistance program or documentation of current household income,” according to its website. That household income can be either 200% of the federal poverty level or 60% of the area’s median income.

The computers come loaded with Windows 10 operating system, said Adrian Mesino, library marketing coordinator.

It was the success of the 2022 event, and the need it showed, that encouraged him to look into becoming a permanent pickup location for the program, joining locations in Aurora and DeKalb, Terrill said. There are currently 15 computers – both desktops and laptops – held at the McHenry library for the program.

Those who want one of the low-cost computers must apply online. Terrill suggests those in need of a computer come to the library to get online and do the application.

The computers are very basic.

“Their mission gets to a core need” of a working, usable computer, Mesino said, without throwing high-tech jargon at people they might not need to know or understand.

The PCs for People machines are also refurbished and come with a warranty. That is the difference between buying a computer from the nonprofit organization versus buying a used computer from Facebook or Craigslist.

“They are refurbished to a standard,” Mesino said. “They will serve a need for hopefully a couple of years. They are very economical products.”

As the digital services librarian, Terrill works with library clients, helping to teach them how to use computers, how to use programs and how to avoid scams and bad actors online. Library users can request one-hour sessions on specific topics they need help with, he said.

In the past, the library has outsourced services to teach larger classes. In late fall, the plan is to ramp up classes offered at the library, starting at the basis of operating in Windows 10 to higher-level classes too.

“It will run a gamut,” Terrill said

To apply for one of the low-cost computers, go to mchenrylibrary.org to find the the PCS for People form, confirm eligibility, and select the bundle.



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